Jun 2, 2012

Mantel Madness: Part Deux

It's been a few days since I stained the mantel Steve made, so it was time to wrap this project up.

Ready for more.

I mentioned how I wanted this bad boy to look like an heirloom found in a long-forgotten attic.  I decided I'd give the dry brushing technique a try.  Here's an inspiration pic that will show you the type of look I was going for.

From Perfectly Imperfect.
I decided to use the same creamy white that's on the side tables Steve made, Valspar's Woodrow Wilson White.  You start by getting just a tiny bit of paint on the end of the brush.

Just a smidge.

And then you dab your brush on a clean dry rag.

Old tee-shirts.

Then comes the tricky part.  Applying very little pressure, move the brush very quickly back and forth.  Like, quick!  Not like you're trying to paint it, like you're trying to dry the brush out.  If you've got too much paint on the brush or you move too slowly, you get weird purposeful-looking streaky marks instead of a blended aged look.

Moving too slow.

The good news is that sanding *while the paint is still wet* can help blend your boo boos and add to the aged look.  I used a 220 grit sponge sander and it worked like awesome.

Smooth like buttah.

After one coat, here's what it looked like.

Getting there!

 And after two coats...

Ooh, blendy.

 And then after a third coat we were done!

Pretty, ain't she?

Here's my favorite thing about the dry brush technique: the paint is practically dry as soon as you're done.  No waiting 24 hours.  Try 15 minutes before you're good to handle it.  So of course I made Steve hang it up for me, pronto.

Husband of the year.

It looks kind of whitewashed in the photos, but in person it looks almost like weathered barnwood.  It really makes the trim detail pop, and highlights all of the imperfections in the wood- the knots, the grooves, the rough cuts.


It's neat how it looks so rustic hanging out above the wacky 80s piano.  It makes you notice the 80s-ness less, I think.  Except for when I point it out.

All done!

Now that the mantel is up, I have a couple of decisions to make.  I'd like some type of task-lighting for playing the piano (and the corner by the TV is just kind of dark anyway).  And I'm curious about what's going to go between the top of the piano and the bottom of the mantel.  I've got a couple of ideas, but nothing I'm totally sold on yet.  And then will come the most fun part- decorating that baby up!  Cannot wait!

FYI, Steve had so much fun making this mantel for me that he said he'd be willing to make custom mantels for other people, too.  If you are interested, let us know!


  1. Mantels can be so cool! what a creative idea! When my sister bought her first house out of divorce (and I lived with her), it had a super plain, boring tile surround on fireplace. A friend of ours made the most beautiful mantel (all the way around) when I asked him to make a simple shelf mantel. We wanted to rip that baby out when she sold the house...but it stayed! I will keep that in mind...Steve making a mantel. I love the freestanding mantel idea!

    1. That's really cool! Not sure what it is that's so appealing about mantels, but I love em! I think we are getting ready to commit to some goodies on that mantel soon! I'm really excited to decorate it to the hilt!